The Global Commons

Tragedy or opportunity?

Our world is reaching the limits of what it can provide sustainably. All life on Earth depends on clean air and water, biodiversity and a stable climate. These global commons —the ecosystems, biomes and processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system—are the very foundation of our global economy and modern society. Today, they are facing an all-too-familiar tragedy of over-exploitation and rapid degradation.

The stakes are high. There is no time to lose.

With increasing pressures from humanity, our window of opportunity to act is closing quickly. Conservation and the shift to more sustainable practices have proven successful at small scale, but we are still losing ground at the planetary level.

It is urgent that we bring about transformations in our key economic systems and leverage evidence and new information technology, political leadership, coalitions for change and innovation.

The global commons are the basis of all opportunity, so the question is: how do we turn the tide on the commons from tragedy to opportunity?

Recent papers about the Global Commons:

PDF iconGlobal Commons in the Anthropocene

PDF iconThe Great Decoupling

PDF icon Langhammer et al, The Impact of Conservation Action (2016). Coming soon


Recent videos

Our Global Commons from IISD Reporting Services / ENV on Vimeo.

Global Commons: Solutions for a Crowded Planet from IISD Reporting Services / ENV on Vimeo.

For further information

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Read more about the Global Commons in The Guardian.

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